Human Exceptionalism

Canada Rejects “Presumed Consent” for Organ Donation

There are many proposals to overcome the organ shortage. One well-meaning but misguided suggestion is “presumed consent,” under which each of us would be presumed to want our organs donated unless we explicitly direct otherwise. In other words, rather than signing an organ donor consent form, we would have to sign a document akin to a non-consent form if we did not want to donate.

The problem with this is that with most of us presumed to consent, upon suffering a serious injury or illness, especially to the brain, the (perhaps unconscious) temptation would be to view a patient’s organs as being more valuable than the patient, leading, perhaps, to medical care more geared toward preserving organs than preserving life.

This is one reason that Canada seems to have rejected the concept. Good. Having policies that border on coercive would not increase organ donation: They would undermine public confidence in the organ transplant system.

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